Each month, the Department of State releases a visa bulletin detailing how the final action dates have moved for green cards of all categories. This bulletin is vitally important to the green card immigration process, so we've made the data more accessible and included some of our own predictions for the December 2017 visa bulletin. December 2017 Visa Bulletin Overview After combing through the date movements from last month to this one, we were surprised to find that there was very little movement in almost all of the categories for the family-based visas, including many instances of no movement at all. Rather than see the one or two-month jumps from last fiscal year, you can expect to find advancements of only a few weeks. Fortunately, the dates in the employment-based categories remain current for the most part. Keep reading to see where your date stands in the December 2017 visa bulletin. Family-Based Visa Preference Categories The four basic preference levels of the family-based green cards are further broken down according to five chargeability areas: China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and all unlisted countries (otherwise known as the general category). Below, we've noted the movements of the final action dates based on the December 2017 visa bulletin. First Preference The F1 green card sits in the first preference category and is meant for the children and dependents of those who are U.S. citizens. \tThe dates for the general category, China and India have all gone forward one week from January 22, 2011, to February 1, 2011. \tThe date for Mexico has not seen any movement and remains at April 1, 1996. \tThe date for the Philippines has retrogressed two years from January 1, 200, to January 1, 2005. Second Preference This preference level is divided into two subcategories: F2A: for the spouses and unmarried children under 21 of green card holders (lawful permanent residents). \tThe dates for the general category, China, India, and the Philippines have all gone forward five weeks from November 15, 2015, to December 22, 2015. \tThe date for Mexico has gone up two weeks fro November 1, 2015, to November 15, 2015. F2B: for the married children over the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents. \tThe dates for the general category, China and India have all gone forward one week from November 15, 2010, to November 22, 2010. \tThe date for Mexico has not seen any movement and remains at July 22, 1996. \tThe date for the Philippines has retrogressed six months from January 1, 2007, to July 1, 2006. Third Preference This green card, the F3, is meant for the married children of U.S. citizens. \tThe dates for the general category, China and India have all gone forward three weeks from August 15, 2005, to September 8, 2005. \tThe date for Mexico has moved up two weeks from May 8, 1995, to May 22, 1995. \tThe date for the Philippines has gone up one week from March 1, 1995, to March 8, 1995. Fourth Preference Lastly, the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens can apply for the F4 green card. \tThe dates for the general category and China have moved forward two weeks from May 22, 2004, to June 8, 2004. \tThe date for India has moved up one month from October 22, 2003, to November 22, 2003. \tThe date for Mexico has not seen any movement and remains at October 8, 1997. \tThe date for the Philippines went up seven weeks from June 8, 1994, to August 1, 1994. Family-Based Visa Chart Take a look at the chart for family-based green cards taken from the December 2017 visa bulletin. Employment-Based Visa Preference Categories There are a total of six different chargeability areas for employment-based immigration. These are: China, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Central America (just El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), and the general category. While there are five total preference levels for the employment-based green cards, we will only focus on the first three due to the rarity of the last two. If you are applying for an EB-4 or EB-5 green card, you can contact us to get more information. Here is how the final action dates have moved since last month based on the December 2017 visa bulletin. First Preference The most prestigious employment-based green card is the EB-1, which is meant for those who can demonstrate that they: \thave extraordinary achievements in their field (EB-1A) \tare outstanding researchers or professors (EB-1B) \tare the executives or managers of multinational companies (EB-1C) The main advantage to the EB-1, aside from the shorter priority date waiting time, is the fact that they do not require a PERM Labor Certification. Also, applicants for the EB-1A can self-petition. \tAll dates for the first preference are current. Second Preference The EB-2 is meant for foreign nationals who either possess exceptional ability in their field or have an advanced degree. Those that qualify for the EB-2 National Interest Waiver can also self-petition. \tThe dates for the general category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines area all current. \tThe date for China has moved forward two weeks from June 15, 2013, to July 1, 2013. \tThe date for India has gone up three weeks from October 8, 2008, to November 1, 2008. Third Preference The last employment-based green car that we will discuss is the EB-3, which is reserved for professional workers (those with bachelors degrees), skilled workers (those with 2+ years of experience), and other workers (those with less than 2 years of experience). Note that the dates for the "other workers" category vary slightly from the rest in the EB-3 category. \tThe dates for the general category, Central America, and Mexico are all current. \tThe date for China has moved forward 5 weeks from February 1, 2014, to March 8, 2014. \tThe date for India has not seen any movement and remains at October 15, 2006. \tThe date for the Philippines has also not seen any movement and remains at January 15, 2016. \tFor the "other workers" category, the date for China has moved forward three months from April 1, 2006, to July 1, 2006. Employment-Based Visa Chart Take a look at the chart for employment-based green cards taken from the December 2017 visa bulletin. December 2017 Visa Bulletin Predictions While the general lack of movement in this month's bulletin may seem very similar to the stagnation experienced before the end of the 2017 fiscal year, it is possible that this is a sign that change is on the horizon. The current political administration has mentioned changes that could expedite the green card process. However, for now, as more and more people oversubscribe these categories, the dates may continue to slow. What Should I Do Once My Priority Date is Current? Once you see that your priority date matches or passes the final action date given in your country and category, you may have a decision to make for your next step. The first option is to file an I-485 to have your nonimmigrant status adjusted to lawful permanent resident status. Note that this is only available to those that have a nonimmigrant status to begin with and are currently in the United States. The other option is to go through consular processing, which means that you will need to take your I-140 approval notice, your passport, a completed DS-260 application, and all supporting evidence for your case to an appointment made with a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. There, you will sit down in a one-on-one interview with a consular officer. Because each method has it's own pros and cons, it's best to consult your immigration attorney to make sure you are doing what is best for your case. How You Can Stay Updated In the ever-changing world of immigration law, it's never a good idea to fall behind. To get relevant updates such as the December 2017 visa bulletin, you can subscribe to the Department of State updates by sending an email with the message "Subscribe Visa Bulletin" to firstname.lastname@example.org. How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help It doesn't matter whether you've already filed your petition or you are just getting started on your immigration journey. The best thing to do to make sure that your case goes as smoothly as possible is to hire an immigration attorney. The lawyers here at SGM Law Group have decades of combined experience helping people do everything including filing their petition, getting a PERM Labor Certification, dealing with RFEs, appealing denials, even porting your green card. To get in touch with one of our attorneys, simply fill out this contact form and we will schedule your comprehensive consultation.